I Blinked and She’s Gone

SAHMmelier:

I wrote this last year but thought I’d reshape for all of you that are preparing to do the same. No, you’re not crazy if you want just one more year. No, you’re not crazy if you’re ready for the space and freedom. And no, I’m not ready to send her off again.

Originally posted on SAHMmelier:

I sent my baby to Kindergarten on Monday.

I sent my little girl to Kindergarten.

I sent THIS little bundle of love to Kindergarten.

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How is that possible?  It was a blink ago, I promise.  It’s not that she is really “gone,” obviously, but it is the first of many steps in letting go.  You hear it all the time.  Cherish each day; it goes so fast.  But when you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel fast.  The lonely nights from 1-5 am, feel like they’re never going to end.  The hour before my husband gets home seems to drag with the kind of steady defiance reserved for acts like putting their shoes on when I am in a hurry or picking up their rooms, one lego at a painful time.  And yet I took my baby to Kindergarten Monday.

She has always operated at her own pace.  Although…

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A Practical Girl’s Ferrari

In my preteen years, we spent hours playing the game MASH. We fantasized about Ferraris, mansions in Malibu, and our passionate relationship traveling the world with Simon Le Bon. We let the spiral of fate determine our career path and number of children. Gratefully, my life looks very little like the best or worst of what MASH threw at me. I have no desire to tame a rock star and there’s only one kind of “Ferrari” that turns my head. I mean, honestly, where would the booster seats go?

I recently sampled Ferrari sparkling wines* which are produced in the Trento D.O.C. of Italy: Brut, Perlé, and Rose. Both the Brut and Perlé are 100% Chardonnay, the Rose has 60% Pinot Noir. Ferrari was founded in 1902 by Guilio Ferrari. It has been owned by the Lunelli family  for three generations. Ferrari sparkling wines are produced with grapes from the foothills of the Alps employing Metodo Classico.  Sustainable growing practices are a growing focus for the family.

Just because I don’t want to drive a fancy Italian car doesn’t mean I don’t have expensive taste. My favorite of the three wines was the Perlé ($38) which is hand harvested from the family’s own vineyards. Elegant and crisp, great texture, sweeping mid-palate with notes of green apple and integrated yeast. A classic sparkler and a fun alternative to Champagne. The Brut was tasty and I always love pink bubbles but the Perlé was the standout.

I am a Volvo girl. I’ve owned four which range from an ’82 240 to my current ’02 XC70 wagon. Practical, sturdy, safe: a mom car. Yes, I was driving mom cars before I earned the right. But you know what’s great about a wagon? Room for EVERYTHING. Strollers, a big black lab, and cases of wine. And although I can pretty much guarantee there will never be a shiny red sports car in my driveway, I will come home with a Ferrari or two.

*These samples were provided by Gregory White PR as media samples.  I recevied no other compensation and the thoughts and opinions are  my own.

Real Writers of SB County-WBC14

It was one part Survivor, two parts American Idol.  Throw in a little Top Chef, a splash of Amazing Race, and a dash of The Bachelor and you have the Wine Bloggers Conference 2014.  I returned nearly a week ago, and although I have yet to process fully, as I was reflecting on the weekend, it occurred to me that it had several of the pieces that make a great reality show.  Timed events, surprises, legends, even a spat among the panel.

Take the first event of the conference. Discover Portugal: Influences Around the World.  There were stations in each corner of the room with food and wine pairings from India, Portugal, Brazil, and Japan. The food that I had a chance to try was delicious but it was the wines that made a lasting impression.

The event made me think of the viral videos we have all seen.  A little girl comes on the stage, slowly, with her head down. The audience looks at each other, not knowing what to expect. Can she hold her own? But when she opens her mouth, jaws drop.

When people think about Portugal, they usually think about port. Maybe they have had a lower end Vinho Verde. But when I poured the wine, they all had the same look of surprise. They had no idea what to expect, but as they swirled, smelled, and tasted, their eyes lit up.  Mineral driven whites, bold savory reds, large range, low price points.  American Idol meets Top Chef.  Think of the ratings.

This is where we move to The Voice, or the Biggest Loser coaching portion.  Corbett Barr of Fizzle gave us the pep talk, the how-tos of blogging, work-life balance, opportunity and ways to support one another.  We left inspired, ready to take on the blogosphere.

We moved to the panel of Santa Barbara County winemakers hosted by Larry Shaffer of Tercero Wines: Richard Sanford, Ken Brown, Rick Longoria and Bob Lindquist.  Wine lovers go on “hometown dates.”  How did they choose SBC?  Why is it unique? Why do the wines from Santa Barbara County deserve to move on in the competition?  They all received roses.

Speed Tasting.  10 wines in an hour.  Kind of like the auditions of American Idol but there were no humiliating moments.  Some made us stand up and applaud and some showed enough to move on.  Regardless, trying to evaluate after one “song” was a challenge indeed.  The first day we evaluated whites, reds the next day.  In order to Survive these sessions, you need to be a pro-spitter (glad I practiced!) but even all the spitting couldn’t save my tongue from the perils of too many tannins.

We learned about how the pros taste with Steve Heimoff, Patrick Comiskey, and Joe Roberts.  This was a fun session.  I wish we’d had more time to delve in deeper, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I loved Patrick Comiskey’s idea of looking for purity in his wines, at Riesling in terms of quality of light.  I guess that part differed from most reality shows. We tasted three wines, one chosen by each panel member and a “mystery” wine.  I guessed Italian, as did the panel, so I didn’t feel too bad when it was a Grenache from Australia.  (Huh?)  I guess I failed the quick-fire challenge.

This is where we entered the Amazing Race zone.  Ten busses, ten different excursions, ten mysteries.  It was starting to get a little “Lord of the Flies” meets “Titanic” in front of the hotel.  Grown men and women shuffling and pressing to get on certain busses.  At first I tried to follow my new-found friends, but decided I’d just embrace the unknown.  Talk-a-Vino and I paired up and got on a later bus.  Again, more at a later date.

If Wines of Portugal was the timid girl belting out a new take on an old hymn, Syrah of Ballard County was the farm boy who stands up and performs an aria that makes you weep.  AMAZING wines.  The soil, the topography, and the dedication of these growers and producers combine to create unforgettable wines.  For a full review of this session, I recommend reading SoloSyrah’s take. Who better to critique?  Reruns, please.

The Professional Wine Writers session was filled with good information, inspiration, and more than a few catty comments.  Steve Heimoff, Mike Dunne, and James Conaway shared insights into good writing, journalism, and interview techniques.  There were some great insights and some comments that left more than a few in attendance scratching their heads.  At times it felt like there was a gap in the realm of teacher/student.  It was kind of like Cat Stevens coaching Eminem on storytelling in music.  Both are great at storytelling, but the motivation and the audience differ greatly.  There can still be a lot of good information gleaned, but you need to respect one another to do your best learning.  Take what applies, question your motivations, move forward.

Taylor Eason may be the next Ryan Seacrest.  When tensions got high on the panel, she knew how to diffuse.  A smile, some redirection, and order was restored.  And, boy, can the girl throw a party!  Still, there were moments that felt like watching any panel that Simon Cowell is a part of.  It may get uncomfortable but he is great at pushing performers past their comfort levels and isn’t afraid to speak his mind.  You may leave feeling intimidated, but it will likely make you a better writer/performer.

Officially the conference ended as any good reality show does: a few awards, some dirty jokes, and a big announcement.  Congratulations to all of the winners and to my home state of New York for snagging next year’s conference!  We had already planned a trip north next summer so I know that I plan on being there.

No program is possible without the hard work of all the behind the scenes producers, sponsors, and casting.  Being a Scholarship Recipient was kind of like getting one of the 10 final roses so I need to thank all of you that made it possible.

The Producers:

Zephyr Adventures

Vincent Group Consulting

The Judges:

Thea DwelleCo -Founder / Scholarship Chair / Ambassador

Megan Kenney – Co-Founder, Committee Member

Cindy Rynning - Committee Member

Becca Yeamans – The Academic Wino

Shawn Burgert – A Wandering Wino

Melanie Ofenloch – Dallas Wine Chick

The Scholarship Sponsors**:

Rodney Strong Vineyards

MalmComm

Wine4.Me

Enobytes.com

hellovino

Tercero Wines

Cornerstone Cellars

**For a Full List of Event Sponsors see the Wine Blogger Conference Website.

 

*For those of you that are true reality fans, forgive any comparisons that were not correct.  While I do waste brain cells watching RHof Everywhere while folding laundry, I have minimal knowledge of the other shows.  The allusions were for creative purposes only.*

 

Strong Silver in Solvang #rsv25

It is 6am and I am sitting in the hotel lobby at the Marriott in Santa Barbara. which means three things.
1. I made it to #WBC14!
2. I had so much to say that I couldn’t lay in bed anymore.
3. I had so much self-control last night with the great wine flowing that I was able to get up early!

What an amazing way to begin this trip. Mary Cressler of Vindulge, and I arrived at a similar time in LAX so that we could rent a car and drive up together. I had envisioned plenty of time to stop, enjoy the ocean view, maybe have a bite or glass of wine in Santa Barbara…

I did not envision the anaconda-like line weaving through the rental car lobby. We finally made it through, papers in hand, to go jump in our car and make a mad dash north, only to find….another mob in the back of the building waiting on rental cars that were nowhere to be found. Seriously, it was starting to get a little Lord of the Flies when Mary, our heroine, said, “Give us a car, any car!” It worked. We hit the 405 and made our way to the 101 in decent time. The bus was leaving between 5:30 and 5:45. We pulled in at 5:15. I’d love to tell you that we slid into the the parking lot, pulled the e-brake and spun out in dramatic flair. It would make a better story. But, come on. We’re moms now.

We did, however, make a quick turn around change and make it on the Silver bus! This year celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Klein family’s purchase of the winery. In honor of the occasion, the winery held an amazing dinner at a local Farm to Table restaurant in Solvang, Root 246.

Lucky for us, Rachel Voorhees of Rodney Strong likes to start and evening with bubbles so we sipped on Gloria Ferrar Blanc du Noir on route. We arrived to passed appetizers and Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc. After some time to mingle and meet, we were seated and began a family style dinner. Each course, perfectly paired. Each wine, vibrant and delicious.

We had roasted beet salad with the Chalk Hill Chardonnay. Beautiful fruit and minerality. The Kurobuta Pork Collar with the Davis Bynum Pinot Noir was the stand out for me. This wine was so alive, fragrant, red fruit and subtle spice. Just gorgeous. The Santa Maria Tri-tip and the Symmetry wine were both full of balanced flavors. Such a treat. The final course was a chocolate tart with smoked marshmallows served with the Rodney Strong port. Holy yum.

As outstanding as the food and wine were, they were outshined. What a privilege it was to be able to meet people I’ve followed, read, learned from. What a privilege to be here in this beautiful country, sharing meals and wine and laughter. I am, again, so grateful to the sponsors that allowed me to be here and my husband for picking up the slack while I am gone.

In a couple hours, I will be learning about and pouring wines from Portugal. And then about how the experts taste. And then? Wherever this adventure leads. Stay tuned for more! Cheers!
PS-Forgive my less than stellar formatting etc while I am out here. I am technically challenged at ALL times. Even more so posting from my ipad!

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Training for #WBC14

Tomorrow is the day!  I’m so excited to be heading out to Santa Barbara county to meet and learn from some of the top wine writers.  But, I’ve got to say, I’ve been feeling a little out of my league.  So what is a girl to do?  Well, some training, of course.  And how does a SAHM find time for training with the littles out of school?  Well, put them to work, of course.

This is how a SAHM prepares for Wine Bloggers Conference 2014. 

WARNING: self-deprecating silliness follows.  No child-labor was exploited.  No alcohol was consumed.  Just some packing procrastination.

 

 

Now, it may be a little late to join my training program, (my trainers are really exclusive) but I won’t judge your techniques if you don’t judge my video production skills.

Thank you again to the sponsors and those who generously donated so that could be a part of this.  I hope I don’t lose my scholarship/credibility.  Santa Barbara, here comes trouble! Cheers!

 

S.T.A.R. Wars-Sunday Samples

This was a banner weekend in our household.  We introduced our children to the wonders of Star Wars.  I wish I could’ve captured my son’s face better last night, wide-eyed wonder, a glow stick light saber.  Completely enthralled, completely happy. A parenting high-point, for sure.

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Of course, we had to continue with a little teaser of Empire today.  And since I’m feeling the pinch to get some sample reviews in before I leave on Thursday we are going to go with the theme.  I’ll battle through the asteroid field of distractions and get some writing in while they find out how to keep warm in the frozen tundra. Egad.

Here are a few things I’ve been sent of late:

S is for Scotto Family Reds

The Heavyweight Cab was a little heavy for me, but the N.A.P.A.  label Michael’s Red is more enjoyable.  Dark fruit, a little baking spice on the nose.  Moderate tannins and mouthfeel.  The blend is Cab Sauv., Sangiovese, Barbera, Syrah, and Merlot.  A little of this, little of that makes it versatile.  Priced at 17, totally doable.

T is for William Tell Pinot Grigio Hard Cider

Cider is growing in popularity.  It is generally something I typically enjoy in the fall, but the addition of 15% Pinot Grigio takes this one into summer.  It cuts the cloying sweet that some ciders have and makes it more versatile, fresh.  Thumbs up.

A is for Alto Adige

Ok, I’m stretching here.  Il’ Ugo by Mionetto is inspired by a cocktail from the Alto Adige region of Italy. It is a sparkling wine with elderflower blossom.  They suggest serving it with mint and lime.  I found it to be a nice apperativ as is.  Herbaceous, pear, citrus.  Something fun and different.

 R is for Jamieson Ranch Vineyards

Last Monday, some fellow wine writers and I participated in the WITS2014 tasting.  We sampled six wines and tweeted our thoughts.  They were all good wines, but the consensus on the stand-out was the 2011 Double Lariat Cabernet Sauvignon.  Gorgeous nose.  Rich, black fruit, nutmeg, anise.  Great mouthfeel, long developing finish.  Really great wine.  Since two of us received the wines, we split them up after.  I almost picked up my glow-stick light saber.

Now, let’s talk bad ideas.  I know I may be setting off Star Wars fanatics on this one, but I think the addition of the computer generated imagery into the FIRST, ahem, Star Wars was a bad idea.  Call me a purist, but half the fun of the movie was the “How did they do that?” sense of wonder.  Get your CGI out of my 1977 movie please.

Another bad idea.  Deciding to leave on a camping trip three days after I get home from the WBC.  Two, really, since it will be after midnight.  The fact that I’m publishing my “Sunday” piece on Monday gives you an idea of how behind I am.  So with that said, I’m signing off, and may the force be with me.

 

Forming a Theory with Help from Mia Wines

I may have a cure for the Texas Hill Country drought.  It requires wine, food, wonderful people, and a great deal of planning, but if we work together, I think we can pull this off.  So far, I am two for two on the Wine event:Torrential rainstorm ratio.  Last month, after the Dry Creek event, I couldn’t see ten feet in front of me, even going 10 mph.  I avoided highways, prayed, and made it safely, but the lakes rose.  On Thursday, I went to a party at a private home to launch Mia wines, the new line from Freixenet, and we rushed home followed by tornado warnings and downpours.  Coincidence?  You decide.

This was not just any home.  This was one of the most beautiful private homes I have been in.  High above Lady Bird Lake, the views to the right were of the river winding past the downtown skyline, to the left, Red Bud Isle and Lake Austin.  The home had been recently purchased and redesigned by Mark Ashby Design.  The home was contemporary, sleek, yet comfortable and inviting.  That can be a difficult balance to strike; Mark and his team did so with an incredible eye for both subtle and dramatic details.

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As guests arrived, tapas were passed.  With the Spanish wines, Spanish fare was a given.  Eva Bertran of Freixenet and Daniel Olivella of Barlata have a friendship which has spanned decades, so even on his birthday, he provided a beautiful spread.  Crostini with Octopus and fennel, Iberica and micro greens, Chorizo, prawns, and wild mushroom with pine nuts.  Again, I cursed this shellfish allergy, but what I could have was delicious.  My husband oohed and aahed and claimed it was the best paella he’s had.  I have never seen a Paella pan like the Paella pans Chef Olivella had at this party.   What came out of them had to be fantastic.

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Gloria Collell is from a family of wine entrepreneurs so it is no surprise that the lure of enology trumped the lure of law school.  She has been with the Ferrer family, owners of Freixenet, for years and felt the next move should be into easy-drinking, food-friendly wines.  She wanted them to be approachable and festive.  She wanted them to capture the essence of Barcelona and be at an accessible price point.  Gloria has achieved what she set out to do.  These are perfect party wines.

The Mia line currently consists of five wines: white, rose, red, sparkling, and sparkling rose. The whites and pinks are low in alcohol with a level of sweetness.  They are all fermented in steel to retain the fresh, bright flavors.  The grapes are quintessentially Spanish.  The labels boast a colorful mosaic, a perfect representation of the wine.

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Mia’s white blend consists of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Moscato, and Parellada.  Bright blossoms, tropical fruits, and honey.  The rose was my favorite and new grapes for me, Bobal and Sumoli.  Subtle red fruit, floral notes, a great food wine.  The red was, of course, Tempranillo.  Red and black fruit, spice and earth.  Both sparklings are Moscatos.  She suggests pairing the white with rich cheeses or dessert.  The rose has a 2% addition of Tempranillo which changes the wine immensely.  It balances the sweetness and would be perfect with berries and chocolate.

As The Brew played, the sun set, and in the distance, thunder clouds began to roll in.  It did not stop the band from hitting every note.  In fact, that could also be said about Janet Kafka and her team.  Every detail was well executed; the setting could not have been more captivating.  The hosts were gracious and inviting and the service was top-notch.  The food and wine sang of Barcelona, with casual, colorful elegance.

To test a theory, one need to evaluate in several controlled settings.  There needs to be a consistency in the elements, careful observation.   Now, I’m not saying that there is a definite correlation between the great food and wine events and the storms, but it is something I am willing to offer my services as a test subject, repeatedly if necessary.

Many thanks to Janet Kafka and team, Mark Ashby, Daniel Olivella, Gloria Collell, and everyone that made the evening possible.

I was invited to the event as media but received no additional compensation.  The thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

Off the Beaten Path: Dry Creek Valley

If you’ve ever been to the wine country in Northern California, you’ve likely driven along the Silverado Trail in Napa or up Highway 12 in Sonoma.  You’ve probably recognized many of the names as ones you’ve seen on store shelves, interspersed with new names, smaller producers.  But if you head further north, beyond the Russian River Valley, things may begin to look a little different: a little more spread out, a little less crowded, equally beautiful.

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As you approach Healdsburg, you enter Dry Creek Valley.   This AVA is small, sixteen miles long, two miles wide, but don’t let its size fool you.  What it lacks in quantity of production, it makes up for in quality.  And when I refer to small production, I mean small production.  Generally, under 8-10,000 cases per year is considered small production.  Some winemakers are doing  around 600, while the average for the region 4,750 cases.  The valley boasts approximately 9,000 acres of vines and 70 wineries, 150 growers.

The region began producing wine in the second half of the 19th century, but like most regions, Prohibition took its toll on production.  When Prohibition ended it was down to only 4 wineries, including Pedroncelli which is still producing lovely wines.  It wouldn’t experience a resurgence until the 80s when it received its AVA recognition.

There has been a trend among wine lovers of late to seek out the smaller producers, the boutique wineries.  The idea is that if you maintain a smaller level of production, you can keep a better handle on the quality of fruit and the wine production.  This isn’t always the case, but if what I tasted at a recent dinner is any indication, Dry Creek producers are doing this very well.

I was invited to a media dinner with the people from Winemakers of Dry Creek Valley at Justine’s Brasserie here in Austin.  Because most of the wineries do not produce enough to be widely distributed, they need to come together to support the region, one another, and garner the attention they deserve.    The group consisted winemakers, the Executive director, the President of the Board, winemakers, local representatives, owners, and the Public Relations team.  We sampled Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon, dined on deliciously paired courses, and were given opportunities to speak with each representative.  From each person, I gained a unique perspective about the region, the dedication to the industry, the camaraderie and history or the region.

We sampled Sauvignon Blanc from Dutcher Crossing and Fritz Underground Winery (as mentioned for SB day).  We had Grenache, Cab, and the region’s flagship, Zin.  We tried larger producers like Ferrari-Carano and the smaller ones, (like 55 cases small) Estate 1856.  These wines were honest, balanced with depth.  They were as diverse as they were delicious.

We each took home a bag which included a bottle of wine.  My bag included a 2010 Ferrari-Carano Zinfandel.  This was a thoughtful, delicious Zin.  California Zins sometimes have a reputation of being fruit bombs.  This was nothing of the sort.  Bright, alive in the glass, great acid and complexity without being heavy. I told my husband it was like a dark chocolate covered cherry, dusted with espresso and black pepper.  Once I tasted it, I adjusted our dinner slightly: we were already having grilled steak but I added goat cheese mashed potatoes with lots of black pepper.  It worked beautifully.

So often, the people, the stories, the connection is what makes one wine or region stand out from the others.  Dry Creek Valley stands out.  The event was meticulously planned, but always felt warm and comfortable.  The people were sharing their lives, their families’ histories in a glass.  It was a wonderful evening.

When we drove through the valley last summer on our way to the Redwoods, we only made one stop.  I had made an appointment at Ridge Lytton Springs.  It was a wonderful experience with great wines, but I had no idea what was ahead.  As we left Geyserville in the morning, we passed sign after sign.  It was too early to stop, but I found myself quickly looking up all of the unfamiliar names.  At that time, I knew we needed to go back to that region.  And now that I’ve gotten a taste of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley, I only want more.

Many thanks to Michelle McCue of McCue Communications and Ann Peterson of WDCV for the invitation.

Thank you Clayton Fritz of WDCV and Fritz Underground.

Thank Nick Briggs and Dutchers Crossing.

Thank you Rachel Schmidt and Estate 1856.

Thank you Kim Pettit and Ferrari Carano.

Thank you Dashe Cellars for sharing even though you couldn’t be with us.

Thank you Justine’s for the wonderful food and pairings.  Well done.

{I was invitied to this event as media.  The only compensation was the food and wine served.  The thoughts and opinions are my own.}

“Congratulations, You’ve Been…”

This morning I heard the news that we lost a woman of incredible valor.   I’ve absorbed her words, envied her confidence, and admired the grace with which she conducted herself.  I had intended to share some news today, but it somehow felt inappropriate.  And then I read this quote shared on Oprah Winfrey’s site.   She said one of the best lessons that she learned from Dr. Angelou was this: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”  It was then that I realized this was exactly the kind of news I should be sharing.

A few months ago, I applied for a scholarship to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara County.  A SAHM doesn’t exactly earn a salary, so it would hard to justify the expense, but I knew it was a unique learning opportunity.  I have connected with so many other writers online.  I have found mentors and support, encouragement and inspiration.

In August, I will have been writing for three years.  I have not yet acquired any certifications or attended any seminars.  I have yet to take it to the next level or monetize my blog.  With the changes in Facebook policies it seems my reach has lessened.   At times, it can feel as if what I am doing doesn’t really “count.”  But I want it to matter.  I want to build something of value, monetary or otherwise.  I want to reach beyond, to connect, to be seen.  And although my current schedule allows minimal time for exploration and writing, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My children are growing and I want to grow with them.

Yesterday afternoon, I was beginning to write when I saw the email pop up in the corner.  “Congratulations! You have been…”  I couldn’t see the full subject line but I assumed it ended with a “…chosen to take a survey.”  Or “…have a chance to win a Carnival cruise.”  And then I saw the sender: Thea@WBC Scholarship.  Holy Moly!  What?  Me? How?  AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

So, I am going!  I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunity to meet so many I’ve long admired.  I’m so humbled to have been chosen.  I am so excited to drink good wine…I mean…have a break from my kids….I MEAN learn from all of the talented writers that will be there.  Truly.

Thank you Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Committee.  Thank you to all of you that donated so that I can be there.  Thank you to all of you that will be sharing your insight and wisdom.  Thank you for teaching what you’ve learned and giving of what you have.

I will be sharing more about the conference when it is in full swing and as I process.  Right now, I would love to hear from those of you that have been.  Tips?  Water, spit…anything else?  Ladies, what to wear? (Have to ask)  Friends, when and where will you arrive? depart?  Most importantly, when can we toast in person?  Yay!!!!

Many thanks to the corporate sponsors that have made this possible:

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Salad Days

The heat and humidity are picking up here in central Texas, so sometimes I need to keep it really simple in the kitchen.  I scratch plans for anything that requires turning on the oven and improvise.  Last Wednesday was one of those nights.  I was in the mood for a rose so I opened a sample I recently received from Fox Run Vineyards in the Finger Lakes, Pinot Noir rose to be specific.

Good floral and herbal notes on the nose, palate was similar with subtle red fruit.  A bit of a bite at the end when sipping but that faded when paired with the food.  I had the hubs grill some Brat Hans Spicy Italian chicken sausage  (you can find it at Whole Foods) and threw together a salad of fennel, grape tomatoes, and basil with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil.  I love it when pairings works surprising well. The fennel complemented the sausage and the wine.  The sweet basil brought out the herbal notes in the wine. It was ridiculously simple and ridiculously good together.

This was the second rose I’ve tried from the Finger Lakes region.  The first, I didn’t care for, but this was a nice, easy food-friendly wine and well priced at about $15.  It is fun to see more pink coming from more places and I’ll keep my eye out for more.

Not one to waste good fennel, I incorporated it into another, very different but equally tasty salad.  The main dish was grilled red snapper with herbs and lemon zest.  This time I used butter lettuce, blood orange, fennel, and pistachios with a rice wine and honey vinaigrette.  So simple and super tasty.  What would I pair with this meal?  Sauvignon Blanc, of course.  I love it all the time but when the temps rise, I crave the crisp acidity of a good Sauv Blanc.

Because today is Sauvignon Blanc Day in the wine world, let’s spend a little more time on this perennial favorite.  So here is the thing about SB and me.  I love it all.  Okay, almost all.  Whether the label says Sancerre or Fume Blanc, New Zealand or Chile, I am usually a fan.  This would be a great place to tell you my favorites, but that is just the thing.  I don’t have any.  I am constantly trying new ones, and pretty consistently happy.  There are a few bigger names that I don’t feel the need to buy again, but if it is poured, I will enjoy it.

This past Monday I had the pleasure of trying two from a region typically associated with fantastic Zinfandels.  The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley were in town and I had the good fortune of dining with them at Justine’s Brasserie.  The first two wines poured were Sauvignon Blanc and they were equally delicious.

The first wine from Fritz Underground Winery was 90% tank fermented with 10% done in French oak to soften the wine.  Beautiful tropical notes, great acidity.  A very elegant wine.  The second was from Dutcher Crossing.  They add a little Viognier which comes through in the nose and the texture.  Again, great tropical fruits, stone fruit, and citrus.  The people were as wonderful as the wines.  More on this to come.

So what are your favorites salad wines?  Any favorite SBs I need to look for?  For that matter, what are some favorite summer salads you can throw together quickly and painlessly?  I’ll be sharing more of my faves as the summer swelter begins.

{The Fox Run was received as a media sample and the dinner was part of a media promotion.  I received no other compensation and the thoughts and opinions are my own.}